Real Answers from Real Pilots

Commercial Pilot Vs ATC

(Mathew E) #1

Hello! My name is Mathew and have just recently joined this amazing community. I found this community after searching more about Aviation and possibly careers. So here is a quick intro before I get into what my predicament is exactly.

I have loved aviation for over 2 years now. This past year I have seriously considered taking the path of becoming a pilot. I took an intro flight at my local airport and had a blast. I had a fairly good understanding of how everything worked and even though I didnt understand absolutely everything I still enjoyed the flight. I always find myself mesmerized by commercial aircraft and love it when I’m going on vacation, 50% because I can sit on the window seat and stare out the window all the time.

Now Here is my issue: I am very interested in becoming a pilot (I’m Canadian so I would be working in Canada ofc) and have looked at universities around me and found one that is a 4 year course that results in all licenses and a bachelor in Science. The problem is that I’m worried about the pilot life. I understand how “hard” it is but to be honest I worry Im just underestimating the life that comes with being a pilot. I have nobody around me to tell me what it is Actually like and most youtube videos show the glamour of flying only. Because of this I have looked into Air Traffic Control. I have also deeply enjoyed this path as I play many softwares and simulators like (Infinite Flight) that have ATC and I would say I am too interested in this field.

My Question: Should I go for becoming a pilot or take the “safe” way as an ATC where there is a better chance of family life, etc?



Take a look at our schedules section to see how much we are on the road, that might give you a better idea of the lifestyle.

These are adult decisions, we can’t tell you what career you should choose. You will have to decide what makes you happy.




If it’s a choice I’d go with ATC. While not a requirement of the job, if you don’t have a passion to fly then it probably isn’t worth the time, money and other sacrifices involved. The pilots I know who are happy LOVE their jobs, the others wish they did something else.


(Mathew E) #4

Hi thank you for your answers.

I guess I want to clear up a couple some things to make this more understandable. First of all I LOVE flying. Anything aviation related like spotting, GA, etc I LOVE doing. The thing I worry about is the life of a pilot. I know its challenging but I feel like I don’t completely understand it. I personally want to be able to have some sort of family & social life and I don’t know if its possible if I become a pilot. To clarify my question I would word it this way.

Question: Would you recommend becoming a pilot who loves aviation and flying? If so what are the serious down sides to it? Does it get boring/repetitive, not worth it in a social life area, etc?



Do I recommend it? ABSOLUTELY, I LOVE my job and can’t imagine doing anything else BUT that’s me. I know pilots who hate it. My son appraises art and loves it, I’d shoot myself! When I was flying long haul I got very bored so I changed it up and now do short hops. There are other pilots who love long haul and think what I do (only flying to 5 airports) is boring. There are many pilots with great family and social lives and others without.

Not trying to be vague but this my friend is called life. You will miss some holidays, events, children’s ball games and school plays. Does that mean you have a bad family life? To me no, your wife may disagree. Is it worth it? To me yes, to you I have no idea. It’s about priorities and what’s most important to YOU and YOUR life. As Chris said, these are grown up decisions that only you can make for YOURSELF.


(Mathew E) #6

Thanks for your advice! I have another question.Sorry for so many questions.

Is there a way to actually know the pilot life is for you? I personally am looking at it and I see the downsides yet is still really want to become a pilot, but I very much worry that I may spend years being a pilot for me to only become bored and “hate” the job for lack of better words.

(Trey) #7


I think they points trying to be made here are that if you have to ask yourself whether or not a career in aviation is right for you, maybe it’s not. In other words, for the people who enter a career as a professional pilot, there is NEVER a question of what they want to do with their lives. Maybe the fact that you are having questions is a sign that while you find planes cool, being a pilot may not be for you.

There is no question that this job requires sacrifices. Some more introspection may help in your decision as nobody can tell you directly what your individual tolerance level is for being away from home.




You’re asking a question that is literally impossible to answer. I have a question for you. “Is there a way to actually know” if ANY job, career, vocation, hobby, food, life partner, being a parent, place you live or ANY other thing you may EVER try in your life will be right for you and whether or not you’ll “become bored and hate” it in the future? If you can answer that you’re smarter than me and anyone I’ve ever met in my life.




You are asking a very nebulous question. While most pilots like their jobs, I know some that do not. But that could happen with absolutely any job. The best I can say is to read this forum, especially the “Flying the Line” section and look at our schedules. In the end though, you really will not know until the day you retire, but that is true of any career.


(Mathew E) #10

Ok thank you guys for your help.

(TX) #11

I was an air traffic controller for five years. Now I’m wrapping up the training program at ATP. I have a few friends who went the other way, from professional pilot to ATC.

We’re all happy with our decisions, so it’s not exactly that one is better than the other. They’re just different (although I feel like flying is much more fun and rewarding). It’s a little premature for me to make an assessment since I’m not getting paid yet, but I’m having a much better time with the changing scenery, getting my hands on the planes, and all the other great parts about flying. I loved ATC and still miss it from time to time, but I’m definitely happier on this path.

NavCanada has a pretty good rep and I have nothing but good things to say about Canadian controllers. I personally think they are run better than the FAA.

Line up a tour of an ATC facility up there so you can get a glimpse of what they do. Take a discovery flight, too. See if one isn’t calling your name more than the other.

Doing this on my phone while watching a movie, so this may be a little disjointed. PM me if you’d like to ask any questions about what it was like as a controller.